The major markets across the Asia-Pacific region are trading in positive territory on Friday, taking cues from Wall Street where the major indices continued to advance for the third successive trading session, on expectations that the worst seems to have been overcome and the economy, though still weak, is showing a slowdown in the downward momentum.
While discounting the weakness in the global economy, market analysts are pinning hopes on the positive impact of stimulus measures to kick-start the revival, and better-than-expected economic data only affirms the perceptible change in economic outlook, which, of late, is much better than earlier pessimistic outlook.
Profit taking is also witnessed following a smart rally over the past few trading sessions.
On Thursday, the Dow closed up 216.48 points or 2.8% at 7,978, the Nasdaq closed up 51.03 points or 3.3% at 1,604 and the S&P 500 closed up 23.30 points or 2.9% at 834.
In Asian trading, Crude oil is currently down $0.49 at $52.15 a barrel in electronic trading. , Light sweet crude for May delivery closed up $4.25 at $52.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Thursday, after hitting an intra-day low of $48.45 and a high of $52.87, on improved demand prospects amid hopes the G-20 summit will help pull the world out of the economic crisis.
In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is currently trading at 8,818, up 98.16 points, and the broader Topix index of all First Section Issues is gaining 10.65 points to 837.
Automakers, exporters and financials are leading the gains in the market. Among automakers, Toyota is gaining 6.96% and Honda is rising 3.47%. Exporters are also trading higher on weaker yen. Canon is advancing 2.99%, Sony is surging up 3.23% and Sharp is adding 0.97%.
In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ is gaining 1.89%, Mizuho Financial is advancing 1.92%, Sumitomo Mitsui is rising 0.80% and Resona Holdings is edging up 0.44%. Brokerage Nomura Holdings is up 3.55%.
Oil stocks are trading mixed. While Inpex is moving up 0.42% and Nippon Oil is gaining 1.18%, Showa Shell is down 1.39%. Meanwhile, trading house Mitsubishi Corp. is rising 2.70%, Sumitomo Corp. is gaining 0.66% and Itochu is edging up 0.19%.
In Sydney, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is gaining 49 points to 3,729, after closing nearly three percent higher on Thursday. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 45 points to 3,667.
On the economic front, the latest Australian Industry Group - Commonwealth Bank Performance of Services Index or PSI data revealed that Australian services sector activity remained weak in March. The seasonally adjusted Australian PSI rose by 3.4 points to 35.6 in March, still well below the 50.0 points level separating expansion from contraction.
Among banking stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is up 1.24%, ANZ Banking Group is gaining 2.48%, and National Australia Bank is adding 2.37%. Westpac is rising 2.56%, and investment bank Macquarie Group is surging 4.69%.
In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton is adding 2.84%, and Rio Tinto is gaining 1.23%. Gold miners were weaker, after gold closed lower on Thursday. Lihir Gold is dropping 5.60%, Sino Gold is losing 3.62%, and Newcrest Mining is falling 5.72%.
Among energy stocks, Woodside is adding 2.05%, Oil Search is rising 2.95%, and Santos is gaining 1.84%.
In the retail sector, David Jones is edging down 0.34%, Woolworths is losing 0.68%, and Coles' owner Wesfarmers is down 0.61%.
The benchmark KOSPI Index in South Korea opened Friday's session at 1,289, higher than its previous close of 1,277, and is currently trading at 1,285, up 7.67 points, or 0.60%.
Automakers, financials and technology stocks are trading higher. Among the automakers, Hyundai Motor is gaining 1.48%, Kia Motor is advancing 2.39% and Ssangyong Motor is adding 0.77%.
Among technology stocks, Hynix Semiconductor is rising 0.79%, LG Electronics is advancing 0.61%, and LG Display is gaining 0.83%. On the other hand, market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is down 0.34%.
Financials are also trading higher. KB Financial Group is moving up 2.85%, Shinhan Financial is advancing 3.24% and Woori Finance is gaining 3.02%.
Oil-related stocks are moving to the upside. While SK Holdings is gaining 0.43%, S-Oil is losing 1.19%.
Shipbuilders are trading weak. Hyundai Heavy Industries is losing 0.95%, Samsung Heavy Industries is down 0.77%, and Daewoo Shipping is shedding 0.67%
The benchmark Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong is presently trading at 14,569, up 0.32% or 47.18 points.
Wharf Holdings, a conglomerate having interests in ports to property investments, is gaining 5.19%. Property stocks such as Henderson Land, SHK Properties, New World Development, Swire Pacific and Sino Land are advancing, while Hang Lung Property is down 4.51%.
Resource stocks are trading higher. Aluminum Corporation of China, or CHALCO, is gaining 1.74%, CNOOC is advancing 2.43% and PetroChina is adding 1.86%
At the same time, financials are trading mixed, on profit taking after the huge rally on Thursday. HSBC Holdings is losing 0.30%, while Hang Seng Bank is edging up 0.06%. Bank of Communications, BOC Hong Kong, ICBC and Bank of East Asia are gaining, while Bank of China and CCB are losing.
Insurance stocks are trading weaker. Ping An is losing 1.16% and China Life is down 0.37%.
China-related stocks are trading mixed. While China Resources is advancing 2.40%, China Mercantile Holdings is edging down 0.24% and China Overseas is down 4.64%.
Among other major markets, China's Shanghai Composite Index is gaining 2.19 points, or 0.01% to 2,427, Singapore's Strait Times is rising 0.84% or 15.13 points to 1,818, and Taiwan's Weighted Index is adding 65.60 points, or 1.21%, to 5,540. However, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index is losing 0.12% or 1.78 points, to 1,498.
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